Home / Featured / Feelin’ Great in ’58: Notes On the Only Auburn Team To Defend A National Championship (For Two More Days), Part One

Feelin’ Great in ’58: Notes On the Only Auburn Team To Defend A National Championship (For Two More Days), Part One

Let’s just say 2011 has some awfully big and clunky black leather Riddell cleats to fill.

It was time to plan the history section of that magazine we did. I knew what I wanted.

“Yes, we’ve retrospected with all the players from the ’57 team and juxtaposed the photos and ordered the murals,” I said to myself. “But there’s this glorious, ancient tribe of people who have somehow been totally neglected in the post-National Championship angles race, but who I think about every day: The Auburn Fans of 1958—the only ones who know what we’re about to go through.”

So off to the microfiche I went for Diet Coke afternoons of deja vu double takes at 53 year old sports columns. Because the preseason narratives of the 1958 team and the 2011 team run surprisingly parallel. Like, for real. National expectations are an obvious exception, but not as large of one as you might think.

Auburn’s preseason stock has dropped lower — from No. 1 to  No. Chance In Hell —than any defending national in the BCS era. Same thing happened in 1958. Or kinda. It might not have been as drastic of a drop, sure, but it was for the same reasons.

Despite returning the majority of its marquee talent, Auburn opened the 1958 season at No. 5, which according to the Associated Press indicated “skepticism that the Alabama school could [win the national championship] again.” Just as last years’ Auburn team, you know, fluked its way to a BCS title on the Heisman-winning wings of the Blessed Individual, Auburn’s first national championship was thought by old school haters to be, as Furman Bisher put it in Sport Magazine, “almost by accident.”

Things happen, babies are born, and the great history of our defending national champion ancestors was never told. Well it was, or at least it was pecked at and turned into some back page filler bullet points. But even they, for various reasons, never saw print. But I’m going to do my best (over the remaining two days it’ll be interesting and timely) to turn those scans and notes and and bullet points and “OMGs” from the spring into a series of posts that will make you smile with pride and laugh and say “The more things change… ” out loud, etc.— that is, that will make you remember that in this Auburn football universe we are not alone.

Stay tuned.

Keep Reading:

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* Auburn fan chisels “War Eagle” into the Sphinx
* Fans equate Iron Bowl losses with the end of the world—now confirmed by science!
* Auburn is the question, Cam the answer on Jeopardy!
* Derek Jeter’s guardian angel spotted—and he’s an Auburn fan
* Bama pays professional boxers to beat Auburn for the first time
* The Gene Chizik Elevator of Champions!
* Jaime Edmondson sports Auburn shirt in Cam Newton’s Pants photos
* Apple CEO Tim Cook only writes personal email replies to Auburn fans
* Auburn fan shot dead in Alabama fan rap video
* Shug Jordan dug the heck out of houndstooth

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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